1. How Dare Nikon!
When Nikon introduced the Nikon 18–200mm f/3.5–5.6 DX G VR II AF-S ED-IF lens during November 2005, accomplished photographers (amateurs and pros) didn’t consider a super-zoom lens a critical piece of equipment for their work, and that viewpoint continues today.
Sigma and Tamron has happily accepted the mantle of the super-zoom specialists. These companies have made major improvements to earlier models, so super-zooms are excellent choices for casual photographers. It’s also a lens type that the pros must continually re-evaluate as the image quality these lenses produce come closer to a pro’s rigid standards.
Nikon made the daring decision to move into the super-zoom market with the 18–200mm f/3.5–5.6 if for no other reasons than to determine if it could design and manufacture a better super-zoom and to be prepared to offer the pros one they might accept.
2. Traveling Companion.
For the casual photographer, the attraction of super-zooms (other than the affordable price) has been their versatility, as a single-purpose lens, especially when traveling and/or on vacation. Nikon understands this concept, which is why it designed the 18–200mm with the features and capabilities for a wide variety of shooting situations for hobbyists…and the pros ready to descend from Mt. Olympus.
3. It Starts with Focal-Length Range.
Super-zooms are often defined by the multiplication ratio of its focal length, and the Nikon 18–200mm’s is 11.1x, which is a 35mm equivalent of 27–300mm. Few amateurs, and even pros, will need much more than this.
4. The Middle Ground Between Build Integrity and Easy Handling.
The design challenge for Nikon was to create a lens that reflected the two primary benefits of a super-zoom: build integrity and portability, and keep the price affordable for the greatest number of photographers. It has certainly accomplished both goals with the 18–200mm without focus solely on making it acceptable to the pros.
Hold it in your hands and you’ll immediately notice Nikon’s reputation for building above-average, durable lens products in the metal and high-end plastic parts.
Nikon also built this lens to balance well with larger DSLRs, and even smaller bodies, although some weight transference will be evident toward the front of the rig. One downside of the Nikon 18–200mm super-zoom paired with smaller cameras is that the lens will obstruct an onboard flash when shooting at wider than 24mm and cause a shadow in the lower center of the frame.
Both amateur and serious photographers will appreciate the excellent positions of controls and a “normal” manual focus ring and distance scale; however, they won’t find depth-of-field markings or an infrared correction symbol. These are particularly important since focus can be adjusted manually when auto-focus is engaged.
5. Not Just Any Auto-Focus System.
Another benefit of Nikon daring to make a super-zoom lens is that it includes Nikon’s well-engineered Silent-Wave Motor (SWM) to drive the auto-focus system. Its quiet performance and quick and precise focusing is more evidence that the 18–200mm is a great all-purpose lens.
6. Hand-Held Stability.
Being a Nikon zoom lens, the 18–200mm has Nikon’s VR II optical stabilization technology, which allows handheld shooting at as many as 4 shutter speeds slower than without Vibration Reduction. Again, this is important if you are a hobbyist or enthusiast that will use this lens for most situations, since you’ll be able to “point and shoot” quickly and still capture sharper still images and video in low light.
7. Filter Facts.
With a 72mm filter thread, the Nikon 18–200mm super-zoom doesn’t turn during auto-focus and the lens will accept the low-cost (8mm mount) polarizing filters, which do not cause vignetting.
8. Camera Mount.
The Nikon 18–200mm is built with an F mount for Nikon DX DSLRs.
9. Question Answered.
“Is the Nikon 18–200mm f/3.5–5.6 a Serious Super-Zoom Lens?” The answer is yes if you don’t expand the definition of a super-zoom lens beyond its standard boundaries. At $800+, it obviously can’t compete with the zoom and fixed-focal-length lens that cost thousands of dollars and are used by the pros to shoot sports and wildlife. The Nikon 18–200mm is not for them; but if you place this lens within its proper sphere, which is the super-zoom lenses from Sigma and Tamron, then it stands near the top of the category.
This is a lens for the enthusiast, hobbyist and even serious photographer who want a lens they can leave on their camera, so they can easily grab it and shoot. The “perfect” Nikon 18–200mm user may not obtain the best image quality with this lens, but they will be shooting with a product that is well-built and equipped with various Nikon technologies, Silent-Wave Motor for auto-focus and Vibration Reduction II, that definitely make it a serious super-zoom and an excellent value.
Your feedback is important to thousands of PhotographyTalk.com fans and us. If this article is helpful, then please click the Like and Re-Tweet buttons at the top left of this article.